Stars are just about everywhere on the internet these days. It’s standard to see them present on eCommerce websites, or product listing pages. But it’s also not entirely uncommon to see them for various services and even standard blog posts or content articles. The reality is that we’ve been conditioned to accept stars and ratings as an indicator of trust online. When you see one or two stars, you immediately think it’s probably NOT GOOD! When you see three or four stars, you think it’s probably worth further investigation and consideration. When you see four and a half or five stars, you probably think THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR!
All things considered, it’s fairly clear how adding Google star ratings to your organic search listings would increase traffic and conversions. First, it stands out like a bright light bulb in a dark room. If you are one of the only listings on a search results page with a visible star rating, it’s safe to say your listing is going to grab more attention than the rest of your competitors’ listings. Second, it answers valuable subconscious questions everyone is going to have in the back of their minds before deciding to click on something. I’m talking super important questions like: Will this link have what I’m searching for? Can I trust this page or resource? Is this going to be a waste of my time? What do others think of this product or service?
Whether we’re aware we’re thinking these things or not, of the 70,000+ thoughts we have every day, these are surely some of the self-talk that’s going on while we’re looking at the organic search listings. When you see a star rating, you get an idea of what you can expect, and that leads you to taking action.
Before you consider adding Google rating stars to your pages, you have to find a creative way to get your real customer reviews and ratings present on each page of your website that you want the stars to show up for. If your reviews and ratings are hosted off-site at a third party, you’ve got to find a way to display them directly on your site. Some third-party rating and customer review solutions such as GetSatisfaction and GetFiveStars have widgets you can use to easily embed your ratings and reviews directly on your website pages. In certain scenarios however, this may not be possible or ideal. So, here are the only other options you’ll have available:
1) Install a CMS plugin that enables your website users to leave their ratings and reviews directly on your site. This plugin has to be compatible with Google rating stars, so check first.
2) Take snapshots of your reviews on the third-party sites and post them on your website page(s). This is far from ideal, looks tacky and is probably best avoided, but in some scenarios, it may be your best option.
Once you’ve figured out how to get your ratings listed directly on your page(s), you’ll have to make sure Google understands what’s what throughout your content. You accomplish this goal by using Rich Snippets to effectively label important elements in your code, otherwise referred to as “structuring your data.” If you haven’t already, it’s important to label any important elements on your pages including your ratings, your business name, your hours of operation, your phone numbers, your logo, you get the point, right?
For reviews, it’s absolutely crucial to specify exactly what it is that people are reviewing on the page. Is it a product or service, or is it just the content page or blog post itself? Google absolutely needs to know. Label the number of reviews, your average review rating, and anything relevant to the star rating your asking Google to display on your search listings.
If you’re using WordPress, there’s some good news. There are plenty of plugins you can purchase and install to streamline the process of adding your Google rating stars to your listings. You can search the WordPress Plugin Directory for “Google rating stars” or “structured data schema” and choose the plugin(s) that you find most attractive (based on their rating?!)
Now, a word of caution. It’s not advisable to try and manipulate your ratings or mask your true reviews. Google has been known to simply choose not to display the rating stars in your search listings, or worse. It’s possible your SERP could be penalized for trying to cheat the system. Play fair and be open and transparent and you’ll reap the benefits. Honesty is always the best policy. User reviews are a strong indicator of what people think about you or your service, if public opinion isn’t good, consider using surveys and asking the right questions to learn what you can do to meet the demands of your users. If you aren’t willing to be the best that you can be, you’re nothing more than a con artist, a liar and a cheat, and you don’t deserve to rank! I know it sounds harsh, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!
Also keep in mind that it can take a week or even longer (but not usually) for your Google rating stars to start showing up next to your search engine listings. You’ll have to be patient. If you’re doing everything right, they’ll eventually show up. When they finally do appear in the search results, you’ll immediately start getting more clicks. I’m willing to bet you’ll notice your bounce rates decrease and your conversion rates increase simultaneously as well.
First impressions are huge. I’d argue that they’re 80% of any relationship. Perhaps the Pareto principle applies here? In personal relationships, a bad first impression will almost certainly cost you the connection. A positive first impression however, even an ice-breaker such as a friendly smile, nod and wave, goes a very long way at building trust and facilitating conversation. It’s way off topic, but it’s relevant so I’ll share… I read a book about (almost ashamed to admit it) “how to attract women” back in college and I quickly wanted to put it to use to try and get a date during a night out on the town. IT WORKS! Not only did it work, it worked on the very first try. I had always been socially awkward with women. I never knew what to say or when to say it, and then I read this little book and out of nowhere, I had them chasing ME around the place. It was hard for me to believe, my mind was boggled in the best way possible. All the “strategy” consisted of is not appearing cocky or rude or shy or bashful. The goal is to appear friendly and trustworthy and polite and confident. A simple quick smile and nod was all it took to break the ice. Then the big mo (momentum) takes place due to the little confidence boost you’ll surely get and closing the deal is a piece of cake.
Now, to put this into perspective:
Google rating stars essentially does the exact same thing, but virtually. The first impression a prospect has of your company is its listing in the search engine index. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative you do everything in your power to enhance your search listing presence for maximum appeal. Use verbiage that assures readers your content will answer their questions and concerns. Evoke emotion. Highlight your practical value and your social currency. And absolutely, positively, without question – show them what people think about you!
There’s no better solution that I can think of to immediately build trust and start things off on the right foot than adding Google rating stars to your search listings. It may or may not have a direct SEO impact (though, it probably does help a little if your rating is good), but it certainly increases traffic, and that’s just as important.